AI is now a C-suite imperative

Executive involvement in enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) initiatives is growing rapidly and more emphasis is being placed on high-quality training data. Both C-suite ownership of AI and budgets over $500K nearly doubled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic serving as a catalyst for accelerated AI initiatives. 

A key lesson learned from the pandemic is that businesses need to be ready for anything that requires a high level of business agility. It’s Darwinism at its finest as businesses that can adapt to market trends faster than their competition can become market leaders and maintain that position. Those that can’t do this will fade into obscurity with many going away.

But how do business leaders even know what decisions to make? There is a massive amount of data to be analyzed and people can’t process the information fast enough to find those key insights that drive business change. Machines can work at infinitely higher speed and the pressure on the C-suite has never been higher. Now the execs are turning to AI to help them make the best decisions in as short a time as possible.

These findings come from Appen Limited’s annual State of AI and Machine Learning Report, which surveyed 374 business and technology decision-makers between April and May of this year. The report measured the state of AI for enterprises with more than 1,000 full-time employees and commercial organizations with fewer than 1,000 full-time employees.

C-suite involvement in AI takes a massive jump

The report uncovered an important change. The C-suite is now more engaged in AI initiatives than ever before, with a whopping 71 percent of organizations reporting executive involvement. In comparison, only 39 percent of executives owned AI initiatives in 2019. CTOs made up 42 percent of the 71 percent of C-suite AI ownership, which partially explains why AI budgets are increasing in 2020. COVID-19 may be temporary but don’t expect AI to be. I believe it will be the biggest driver of business change since the rise of the Internet.

Executives see AI as invaluable to their business success. This is true for companies of all sizes across different industries. For 27 percent of survey respondents, enterprise AI budgets have exceeded $1M, while 10 percent said their AI budget is more than $5M. These numbers are expected to continue rising steeply as businesses adopt AI on a global scale.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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